Flat Feet and Puffy Ankles, Expert Tips to Help Pregnant Feet

Swollen Feet while Pregnant

Pregnancy triggers many changes in a woman’s body, and some of them can seem overwhelming. Take, for example, the weight gain that pregnant women universally experience. It begins suddenly, and then relentlessly persists throughout your pregnancy. In addition to the weight gain attributable to the growth of the fetus and its surrounding support systems, your pregnant body becomes a virtual water tower.

A lot of that extra fluid is necessary, both to meet the needs of the fetus and also to make your body flexible enough to expand as the fetus grows into a baby. The extra fluids also help prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to expand as delivery approaches. But some of that extra fluid is pure excess. It does more harm than good.

Why are my feet swollen?

Hormonal alterations, designed to let the body accommodate and deliver the growing baby, also lead to looseness of the tendons and ligaments within the foot and ankle. This can cause impaired balance and instability.

The combined weight gain, both from fluid retention and a growing fetus, inevitably alters a pregnant woman’s center of gravity. This in turn changes her posture and walking gait. The new stance, combined with additional weight, exerts inordinate pressure on the ankles and feet. The new laxity of the tendons/ligaments in the ankle and foot makes it even more difficult for the feet and ankles to handle all that new weight.

Circulation slows down in pregnant feet and ankles

As the womb and its valuable cargo enlarge, it gets more difficult for the circulatory system to pump blood from the feet and calves back up to the heart. This leads to even more fluid retention in the feet and ankles.

The result of all these baby accommodating changes? Feet and ankle problems.

Swollen feet and ankles. Yes, your feet and ankles will get bigger

Edema (the medical term for an excess accumulation of fluid) is practically unavoidable during pregnancy. There’s no way around it, your feet and ankles will swell, and those newly loosened ligaments and tendons will ensure that discomfort ensues.

Your feet will go flat (over-pronation)

The extra weight, acting on the newly relaxed tendons and ligaments, makes it difficult for the feet to maintain their arch and retain their resilience. So the feet roll inward and the arch straightens out. When you are over-pronated and barefoot, the entire sole of your foot is touching the ground.

The stress exerted by this foot flattening process can cause painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, the tough fibrous strap that runs the length of the foot, from the heel to the forefoot. Flat feet can also lead to the discomfort of heel spurs and bunions

What to do for pregnant feet?

For Edema:

  • Reduce your salt intake, and make sure you have sufficient potassium in your diet. These steps will help your kidneys release excess fluid.
  • Exercise gently. Mild exertion in a swimming pool will help keep your circulation flowing.
  • Elevate your feet at every reasonable opportunity. The longer you can keep your feet higher than your heart, the better your circulation will be, and fluid accumulation in your feet, ankles, and calves will be reduced.
  • Stay well hydrated. This sounds counterintuitive, but when there is plenty of water in your system, your kidneys will more readily relinquish the unnecessary fluids.

For Over-Pronation:

  • Find and use orthotics. Your podiatrist can provide orthotics that will evenly distribute the new weight, and help your feet and ankles adapt to your new posture and gait.
  • Avoid walking barefoot.

For Both Conditions:

  • Wear shoes that provide good arch support and allow unimpeded circulation.
  • Your feet will continue to swell throughout your pregnancy. Check your shoe size frequently and adjust your footwear accordingly.

If you are experiencing problems with your feet or ankles we are here to help. Our nationally recognized podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists offer the most advanced foot and ankle care, together with the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in both research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM

Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM

Dr. Avanti Redkar is board certified in podiatric medicine and joined University Foot and Ankle Institute under a fellowship in sports medicine and ankle reconstruction. She attended podiatry school at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine and went on to complete her surgical residency at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York, where she was trained in foot and rearfoot surgery, wound care, and hyperbaric medicine.

Dr. Redkar specializes in foot and ankle pathology and is available for consult at our Mid-Wilshire Los Angeles and Beverly Hills locations.
Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM

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